1:00 PM ET, November 25, 2012
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
The Denver Broncos are comfortably atop the AFC West, but now they'll have to replace a key offensive contributor.
A dominant defense led by Von Miller should help soothe any concerns.
Denver (7-3) opened a three-game lead in the West with a 30-23 victory over San Diego last Sunday, sweeping the season series.
The Broncos are on the cusp of matching their win total from last season thanks to a five-game winning streak, but they'll have to go forward without McGahee. The team leader with 731 rushing yards, McGahee was placed on injured reserve after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when he was tackled low against the Chargers.
'"We're certainly going to miss Willis," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "To say we're not going to miss Willis would be not telling the truth because he's that good of a player. ... So, Knowshon and Ronnie and Lance have to step up. Everybody else has to step their game up, too, when you're missing one of your top players."
Manning doesn't have to worry about his defense, which ranks among the NFL's best allowing 312.8 yards per game, including 93.8 on the ground.
Denver's defense also leads the league with 35 sacks, with Miller recording seven of his 13 in the last three games. He had three against San Diego and is second in the league in that category.
"That boy works his butt off and plays with a lot of confidence, and I see him doing it for a long time," cornerback Champ Bailey said.
Miller's 24 1/2 sacks are the most by a Bronco in his first two seasons since the stat became official in 1982.
He figures to be in the Chiefs' backfield fairly often since they've allowed 10 sacks in four games after Brady Quinn was taken down three times and Matt Cassel once in last weekend's 28-6 home loss to Cincinnati.
Kansas City (1-9) is averaging 12.0 points during a seven-game losing streak, mustering just 166.0 passing yards over the last five contests.
"We know we have to fight. We have to do everything in our power to be the best we can be, to be perfect," coach Romeo Crennel said. "That's what I told them, we have to be perfect because that's the only way we have a chance."
The Chiefs, losers of all five home games, were far from perfect last weekend, converting only one third down and totaling just 284 yards of offense. That's partly why Crennel is going back to Quinn.
"I like his leadership qualities and he's had experience with a couple of different teams and he's seen a couple of different things," Crennel said of his former first-round pick, who has yet to break through as an NFL starter. "I think that will bode well for him."
Crennel may feel more comfortable with Quinn over Cassel since he spent the past two seasons as a backup with Denver, never appearing in an official game.
"I know I really enjoyed the teammates I had there. I tried to get better every day, and I think I got better," Quinn said. "I can't really speak about what did or didn't happen."
He's completed 24 of 42 passes for 181 yards with three interceptions in two starts this year.
Unlike the Chiefs, there's no doubt who will be under center for Denver.
Manning is looking for an improved effort after struggling by his standards last week. He completed 25 of 42 for 270 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, while getting sacked three times.
Protecting Manning will be even more important with McGahee out, and it's unclear if Hillman can contribute due to his size.
The rookie, noted for his speed, has 188 yards and a touchdown on 49 carries.
"You've got to protect Peyton a lot longer. I've been in there a lot, but if I do get an extended role, then it's a little more pressure, being able to do everything right every play that I'm there."
Manning threw five TDs in his last visit to Kansas City, leading Indianapolis to a 45-35 win on Oct. 31, 2004.
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Broncos-Chiefs: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 12 Broncos-Chiefs matchup.
• Slow the game down: Kansas City needs to make this a slow game by sticking to the run and sustaining long, clock-eating drives. If the Chiefs get into a track meet with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, they will definitely struggle to keep it close. Look for the Chiefs to use the maximum time on the clock on each snap and do everything possible to keep the clock moving. If the Chiefs let the Broncos get an early lead and are forced to throw the ball to play catch-up, they will play into the hands of Denver's explosive edge rushers.
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|Avg Points Allowed||20.1||27.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Denver leads 15-9|
|Jan 1, 2012||DEN 3, KC 7|
|Nov 13, 2011||DEN 17, @KC 10|
|Dec 5, 2010||DEN 6, @KC 10|
|Nov 14, 2010||DEN 49, KC 29|
|Jan 3, 2010||DEN 24, KC 44|
|Dec 6, 2009||DEN 44, @KC 13|
|Dec 7, 2008||DEN 24, KC 17|
|Sep 28, 2008||DEN 19, @KC 33|
|Dec 9, 2007||DEN 41, KC 7|
|Nov 11, 2007||DEN 27, @KC 11|
|Nov 23, 2006||DEN 10, @KC 19|
|Sep 17, 2006||DEN 9, KC 6|
|Dec 4, 2005||DEN 27, @KC 31|
|Sep 26, 2005||DEN 30, KC 10|
|Dec 19, 2004||DEN 17, @KC 45|
|Nov 6, 2004||DEN 17, KC 11|
|Sep 12, 2004||DEN 34, KC 24|
|Dec 7, 2003||DEN 45, KC 27|
|Oct 5, 2003||DEN 23, @KC 24|
|Dec 15, 2002||DEN 31, KC 24|
|Oct 20, 2002||DEN 37, @KC 34|
|Dec 16, 2001||DEN 23, @KC 26|
|Oct 7, 2001||DEN 20, KC 6|
Peyton Manning has the best completion percentage (48.8) on throws more than 20 yards downfield this season. Manning owes the success to play action, with 13 of his 20 completions of that distance following a play fake.[+]
Peyton Manning Passing More Than 20 Yards Downfield - This Season
The Broncos have scored 166 points over their last 5 games. That's the most they have scored over any 5-game stretch since Weeks 11-15 of the 2000 season and the first time they have ever scored 30 or more points in 5 straight games. If Denver scores 34 points against the Chiefs, it will mark just the 5th time in franchise history that they will have put up 200 points within a 6-game span of the same season.[+]
Most Pts Over 6-Game Span In Single Season - Broncos History
ESPN Stats & Information